ASHLAND -- Many of us are looking for ways to avoid illness and help improve our health and appearance.
It turns out that it was common to seek cures and homemade concoctions even more than a century ago. The following lists some colorfully written concoctions that were found to be helpful back in the 1800’s.
Or maybe not.
The best way to avoid a cold, although it may seem a paradox, is not to be too much afraid of a cold. Let one’s exercise not be interrupted because it is damp, or even rains. Let these conditions be met by appropriate clothing and the feet be protected by strong shoes. The risk of catching cold is greater in windy weather due to evaporation of the skin.
Colds in the lungs and chest are best treated with kerosene oil or vaseline applied to flannel and placed on the chest.
For recent colds, use equal parts of linseed oil, honey, Jamaica rum or equal parts decoction of boneset and molasses. This is prepared by first steeping the boneset and straining, then adding the syrup and boiling down to original consistency of syrup. Take several teaspoonfuls every 2-3 hours.
Liniment can be made from 2 ounces of gum-camphor, 1 dram castile soap, 1 tablespoon oil of turpentine, ½ ounce oil of origanum, ¼-ounce opium, and 1 pint alcohol. Sit beside for upwards of a week or more and then bathe 2-3 times daily.
For coughs and mucus, smoke dry mullen leaves in a clean, clay pipe while wearing little around the neck.
Nothing helps sleeplessness more than night air. There is a popular prejudice concerning the evil effects of night air. It was formerly the belief that night air was very injurious. But the fact is that generally it is helpful. Nothing conduces more to healthy sleep than good ventilation.
Even the dampness of a bed is not so much to be feared if the person is made warm by plenty of clothing.
Wrinkles – tar and almond oils, thin, at night – old cloths on pillow
Hair falling out – cold water every day. Burdock root tea-ammonia, ½ ounce oil of mace, one pint alcohol, brush smartly ammonia wash.
To stay cool in summer, salt baths night and morning. Tart drinks.
Fat people should eat acid fruits; lemons, limes, tamarinds, crackers, beef, mutton, fish, green vegetables, poultry and game.
Thin people should eat vegetables and oily foods – almonds.
Treatment of Cholera. Enemas of Hot Salt Water an Almost Absolute Safeguard.
German Cure for Diphtheria With Surprising Success – one teaspoonful at morning and night of rectified oil of turpentine for children and one tablespoonful for adults. Lukewarm milk afterward to allay the burning in the throat.
Cramps in the leg – instead of sending for the family physician, provide yourself with a good long cord. A long garter will do if nothing else is handy. When the cramp comes, wind it around the cramped leg over the place that is cramped and take an end in each hand and give it a sharp pull, one that will hurt a little. Instantly the cramp will let up. For the permanent cure, give about six or eight cells of galvanic battery, with the negative pole on the cramp, and the positive on the thigh. Give it for ten minutes and repeat every week for a month.
To dye hair use potato water cold.
Hair dressing – four ounces wax, nine ounces olive oil, two ounces burnt cork, melt in cup placed in hot water.
Beverages for the Sick – water, flaxseed lemonade, tamarind water, barley water, toast water, apple tea, rice water.
How to Become Strong – One of the secrets of muscle recuperation is in stopping when fatigue begins from exercise. The gain in strength is shown and felt in the increasing ability to do more and more without exhaustion. There are occasions frequent enough in which people in the struggle of life are forced beyond their powers of endurance, and there is no need to carry into the pursuit of recreation the fatigue which exacting work imposes.
I laughed pretty hard at some of these, especially the recommendation to permanently cure leg cramps and how the nighttime air was thought to be harmful.
The phrase “everything old is new again” came to mind as I wrote this. Although most of us are not familiar with items such as boneset and origanum, some of these old-fashioned ingredients and remedies are still considered helpful today.